The importance of face-to-face contact and reciprocal relationships and their associations with depressive symptoms and life satisfaction

  • Melissa SimoneEmail author
  • Christian Geiser
  • Ginger Lockhart



The current study aimed to examine how patterns of interpersonal relational contexts (e.g., face-to-face or technology-based) and processes (e.g., initiated or accepted) relate to depressive symptomology and life satisfaction.


Participants were recruited through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (n = 962 adults [52.1% female; aged 18–78; 16.4% Non-White]). Quota sampling was used to closely match the sample demographics to that of the United States Census data. Latent class analyses (LCA) identified classes of interpersonal relations using the Multidimensional Interpersonal Relations Scale. Next, participants’ responses on the Beck Depression Inventory and Satisfaction With Life Scale were examined to evaluate differences in depressive symptoms and life satisfaction across classes.


LCA results supported a 4-class model, in which classes were characterized by patterns of relational contexts and processes: Class 1 (50.6%) engagement across all contexts (e.g., face-to-face) and processes (e.g., initiated); Class 2 (12.7%) engagement across all contexts and processes except Facebook; Class 3 (24.0%) engagement in all contexts and only passive processes; and Class 4 (12.7%) engagement in only technology-based contexts and passive processes. Membership in Classes 1 and 2 was associated with lower depressive symptomology and higher life satisfaction as compared to Classes 3 and 4.


The findings suggest that patterns of relations differentially relate to depressive symptoms and life satisfaction. The findings suggest that multicontextual (e.g., face-to-face and technology-based) and reciprocal relationships with friends (e.g., initiating and accepting connections) may play an important role in the association between interpersonal relations with life satisfaction and depressive symptoms.


Interpersonal relations Depressive symptoms Friendships Social media Face-to-face connections Life satisfaction 



This study was supported by Grant Number T32 MH082761 from the National Institute of Mental Health (PI: Scott Crow). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Mental Health or the National Institutes of Health.


The corresponding author, M.S.’s, current fellowship is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (PI: Scott Crow; T32 MH082761). Thus, the study was, in part, supported by the National Institute of Mental Health. The content of this manuscript is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Mental Health or the National Institutes of Health.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study (see Procedures section on page 5 for a detailed description).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUtah State UniversityLoganUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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